There are endless different ways to define success in life. But your view of success may predict the strategy that will work best for you to achieve it.
Some people define success in terms of professional accomplishments, but there’s more to success in life than work. Academics, romantic relationships, family life, and athletics are other areas in which people seek success. People’s definitions of success certainly vary, but fulfillment, happiness, safety, health, and love all figure into the concept.
There’s no one way to achieve success. There’s no perfect recipe of ingredients that yields success. But there are some techniques to increase your likelihood of finding success.
- Adopt an active mindset.
Two basic mindsets influence the way people view their strengths and abilities: the passive mindset and the active mindset.
People with a passive mindset think that things like our character, our intelligence, and our creative abilities can’t be changed. They think success is not a result of hard work; it’s achieved simply as a natural consequence of inherent talents. They give up when facing difficulties because they think things are beyond their control and they don’t have what it takes to succeed.
People with an active mindset believe that they control their lives, and with a bit of effort, they can learn, grow, and change This attitude makes them more likely to succeed, because when things become challenging, they seek ways to improve and continue moving forward.
To build a more active mindset, understand that your determination matters. Your abilities and intelligence are not fixed. Hard work and dedication can help lead to growth and success.
When you face problems, seek ways to advance the skills and knowledge you need to triumph and succeed. Failures are not a reflection of your abilities. Instead, they’re valuable learning experiences that serve as a source of experience you can learn from and improve further. If something doesn’t work out, try something different next time.
- Improve your emotional discernment.
Some experts believe that emotional discernment is more important than intelligence. Emotional discernment relates to one’s ability to reason with, utilize, and understand their own emotions as well as those of others.
To increase your emotional discernment, take the time required to impartially identify what you’re feeling and why. Don’t repress or bottle up your feelings. Look for appropriate and healthy ways to deal with your feelings. Also, listen carefully to others. Hear what they say, and pay attention to body language and other nonverbal signals.
- Develop psychological determination.
Psychological determination refers to the toughness and resolve to keep trying, even when facing obstacles. People with this mental toughness perceive challenges as opportunities. They also feel they control their destiny, have confidence in their abilities, and are committed to finishing what they started. Believing in yourself will increase your psychological toughness. Stop talking negatively to yourself, and always be on the lookout for things you can do to encourage yourself.
Even when something seems impossible, or it feels as though circumstances are conspiring to hold you back, don’t give up. Focus on developing your skills, and shift your view of setbacks and failures into opportunities to learn.
Successful people realize that they need to set attainable goals in order to achieve. Reaching these goals is not necessarily a given, but having a goal to aim for makes it easier to overcome obstacles and move forward.
- Exercise your self-discipline.
In one long-term longitudinal study, clinicians evaluated a group of young students whose teachers identified as highly intelligent. As the psychologists followed these children into adulthood, they found that the subjects who were most successful had several key personal attributes in common, including self-discipline and perseverance.
These attributes are generally identified as personality components, but they can also be built and improved. Delaying gratification, persisting when facing difficulties, and learning to wait for the rewards of your work often leads to success.
Improving your self-discipline will take practice. It can be built, but it takes effort and time. Start by setting small goals that involve self-control. As you achieve these smaller goals, you will notice that your self-discipline is growing stronger when larger goals are involved.
- Focus on internal encouragement.
What encourages you most effectively? Does the guarantee of an external reward motivate you to strive for a goal? Or, is it internal, more personal encouragement that propels you? External rewards, such as praise, awards, and money are often helpful. But many people realize that the most effective encouragement is when they do things for their own satisfaction—because they enjoy doing them, they find the activity meaningful, or they appreciate the results of their efforts.
External encouragement can predict some kinds of performances, while internal encouragement is better at forecasting the quality of the performances. External encouragement often gets people started. Then, internal encouragement kicks in to maintain new behaviors.
To increase your sense of internal encouragement, challenge yourself by setting ambitious but achievable goals. Being challenged keeps you engaged in tasks, boosts your self-esteem, and provides feedback regarding areas in which you can advance. It can be difficult to maintain internal encouragement if you don’t feel that you can influence the outcome. Watch for ways you can take an active role, and stay curious by paying more attention to things you want to learn more about.
- Surround yourself with a support system.
Doing things on your own is difficult. Finding people who can encourage you often makes things easier. Friends, family members, mentors, and professional colleagues can support you when times are tough and offer assistance and advice that can increase the chance for you to succeed.
Take control by not shirking competition. Everyone else is trying to reach goals, too, and some of them are the same as yours. But this doesn’t mean you need to give up. We all have different paths, so don’t compare yours to anybody else’s. Look to others only for inspiration and motivation!